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Man becomes first in Utah to implant new defibrillator under his skin

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Posted at 5:58 PM, Jan 23, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-23 19:58:24-05

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah -- It’s the first time this defibrillator has ever been used in Utah, but the South Jordan resident who received it is just the first of many whose life will be lengthened because of it.

Doctors implanted Utah’s first subcutaneous implantable cardiac defibrillator Tuesday. It’s designed to prevent sudden death from cardiac arrest.

“It’s kind of like having his own paramedic squad in his chest,” said Doctor Jeffery Osborn, who is a heart rhythm specialist.

The patient, 20-year-old Brandon England, was diagnosed with a weakened heart muscle last year, putting him at risk for sudden death caused by his heart stopping unexpectedly,

“Felt like my life was over,” England said.

The defibrillator is designed to protect the patients from high heart rate, which is usually the first sign of cardiac arrest.

The previous device was much larger and required open heart surgery, with patches or leads that went directly to the heart.

“And young patients can be real hard on them and over the years they can wear out,” Osborn said.

England described the way the new device interfaces with his body.

“I’ve got one big incision here with a pocket and one right here where the wire goes to the can…It just feels like I’m helping a lot more people in the near future by getting it done first,” England said.

Just two days after surgery, Brandon is not 100 percent, but you couldn't tell: The patient's outlook is a positive one.

“I’m feeling very sore and a lot of pain, but it should go away,” England said.

England will be closely monitored for the rest of his life, but the surgery brings the patient as close to a normal life as modern day medicine can allow.